Sunday, March 5, 2017

“Things change. And friends leave. Life doesn't stop for anybody.” 
― Stephen Chbosky

So here we are again wondering why it has been so long since I last wrote, chastising myself for being so neglectful of this blog. The bottom line is that with all that I seem to be doing I somehow forget to do these things I truly do enjoy doing. Maybe someday this will take a bigger stage, but for now, you are all stuck with the rantings on the untimely nature they happen.

“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.” 
― Steve Maraboli

My life over the past year has been a whirlwind ride if nothing else. So many changes for good and bad but most importantly I have been changing myself not the world. The freedom that comes from finally realizing that taking control over what needs to be done instead of wishing I had control over what I have no controls over. For those wondering what that is, it is owning myself and letting everyone else be who they are. My health and mind are so much better when focused on the one person I can control then all of the turmoil of the outside world. 

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 

That particular verse rings so true in my life over the past 12 months. So much has changed I have embraced the fact that I have a mission that I am pushed forward and into, sometimes with the fingernails getting stuck on the walls as I grasp trying not to do what I know God is pushing me forward too.  Having moved into a small western NC county that you would think would allow me some obscurity but finding that it has a veteran population of over 10,000 and a true need for people to get active. I continue to find that Mike opens doors with people that would not talk to someone from the VA or other VSO's. (Veteran Service Organizations) 

These interactions while part of my daily life have changed my life and I can only hope others around me. Telling my story and helping others to become comfortable with their stories has become part of my living life on life's terms. This week I had a remarkable experience while traveling north in the camper. As usual, I rarely stay in a campground. Instead, I do what many seasoned RV'ers call boondocking. (Dry camping, "walmarting" or many other names also.) I had stopped in at one of my friends along the coast of New Jersy, having a great dinner and conversation. After dinner, I was ready for a rest before heading up and around NYC, so I started looking for available parking. My friend mentioned a pastor friend and his church as an option. Not one to turn down a safe-haven (no this is not Bethlehem, but the story could be I guess.)

His friend said sure, come on by so we drove on over, and I found a safe level space to park. The pastor came out to meet Mike & I which is not at all unusual, but his greeting threw me for a loop. I am a Christian, and there is no hiding that. I am not a bible thumper nor am I a real prayer out loud. To be honest, I get all tongue-tied if asked to say a prayer of any length in public. All that said, when the Pastor came up shook my hand and said tell me about your ministry I was a tad taken back. Don't get me wrong I do consider the daily interactions I have with people to be God inspired and a mission of God to help other Veterans in whatever manner I can. What I had never thought of though was being referred to as a missionary. (I mean come on people, I was a grunt in the Army, and I am not really what I would consider the typical missionary.)

We all talked for a while, sharing stories and all but my mind could not just let go of what he had said. Who would have thought that a couple of words could change the way I looked at my daily actions and interactions. He wasn't saying I needed to open a church or change at all; he was saying I already was a missionary. That blew me away, it still does. We have all been given so many gifts in this life, and it is our responsibility to recognize them and then use them to glorify God. I hope and prayer that I do that already but after that conversation, my mind has been spinning. The wonderment of "am I doing enough or even doing what I am supposed to be doing?" continues to seep into my thoughts.

“Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.” 
― Roy T. Bennett

My choices have made me who I am. God had given me free will to become the person I am leading me even when I wasn't looking or was so stubborn that I fought hard to run the other way. Today my life is an amazing collection of trials and tribulations that create a story many people find inspiring for some reason. To me, it is my life, and I would not trade it for anyone else. I do not regret the past nor wish to change it. The future is so unbelievably beautiful because I know that God is here guiding me. 
The most important part of all this is not that someone pointed out that I am a missionary, but that life moves forward with a design so much greater than anything we could ever have planned. Who would have ever expected this juvenile delinquent kid from Wallingford CT to amount to anything? Well, the most important answer to that and the only one that counts is God! He lets me know daily how much he loves me through that one on one interactions in the grocery store or on the street. All I have to do is say thank you, God.

Mark 10:45 - “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

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